How can school counselors further support successful transition planning?
Page 12: Communication with Community Organizations and Other Agencies
One of the major goals of the transition process is to help ensure that the IEP team builds on a student’s strengths and experiences, taking into account his or her desired post-school goals, interests, and preferences. Once a student reaches high school and begins the formal process of planning for post-school life, the transition team needs to involve representatives from agencies that can support the student in reaching his or her goals and dreams. The school counselor can assist the team in identifying and communicating with these agencies, including inviting them to participate in the IEP team meetings. Further, the school counselor can help link the instructional activities of the student’s school life with preparation for adulthood, and include agencies that support the student’s goals. For example, we have already learned that Mr. Hunter connected Sandra to organizations such as Green Springs Assisted Living Center, the American Red Cross, and the YWCA in order to support her post-secondary goals.
By including community or adult agencies in the planning process, the team will facilitate the student’s transition from school life to his or her post-school life. School counselors may invite agency representatives to the IEP planning meetings to address:
Post-secondary education representatives – Many students will continue their education after high school. Personnel from post-secondary schools can help to determine what classes the student must take in order to prepare for post-secondary school as well as what classes might be required at the post-secondary level, and can help the student to think about issues related to campus life. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 outline services for students in post-secondary environments.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to post-secondary education for students who have disabilities:
Title II of the ADA protects individuals with disabilities from being denied the opportunity to participate in post-secondary educational activities. However, it does not require universities to accept or accommodate everyone who has a disability. Under the ADA, applicants with disabilities must first:
- Satisfy the standards required by the college or university
- Be able to perform the essential course activities with or without reasonable accommodations
Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as it relates to post-secondary education for students who have disabilities:
Colleges and universities that receive federal financial assistance must not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students. Students who have documented disabilities may request accommodations, modifications, or auxiliary aids that enable them to participate in and benefit from all post-secondary educational programs and activities. Post-secondary institutions must make such changes to ensure that the academic program is accessible to the greatest extent possible by all students with disabilities.
Many students will enter the work force after high school. Agencies able to provide them with opportunities to get job training in their areas of interest can attend transition meetings.
Some students who wish to live on their own after high school may require assistance to live independently. Representatives from the Center for Independent Living, as well as those from transportation and financial planning institutes, can better prepare many students.
Students may be involved or interested in activities in the community, such as religious or social groups. Clergy, youth ministry personnel, and recreational personnel may have a role in helping students to be active in their communities.
For Your Information
IDEA 2004 requires that schools obtain written consent from the parent, or the student if he or she has reached the age of majority, before inviting to the IEP meeting any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services. This is done in order to protect the confidentiality and rights of the student.
Levels of Interagency Collaboration
Interagency collaboration is the desired result when multiple agencies (e.g., health, social service, and education) work together as partners. Each agency participates within its own system, at its own pace, yet continually strives to provide better services in conjunction with the other agencies. The benefits of collaboration are immense and can help improve adult outcomes as a result of increased linkages and effective communication. It is helpful to understand the four levels of interagency collaboration.
|Networking||This occurs as team members discover a wide range of services available in their community and are able to make referrals to other agencies. Networking is characterized by levels of cooperation in which agencies coexist and work informally together, and communicate for the purposes of referral.|
|Service Coordination||This is the process of facilitating student’s access to services, along with coordinating the services, supports, and resources as identified on the IEP. Such coordination assures that services will be provided in an integrated way. This level is critical to collaboration because it helps prevent duplication of services.|
|Cooperation||The third level toward establishing interagency collaboration requires interaction and agreement between the agencies and is characterized by shared decision-making responsibilities, accountability, and trust. This level of interaction cannot be forced and requires high amounts of energy and commitment from each participant. Where cooperation exists, agencies begin to schedule activities and planning times and work as a team.|
|Collaboration||This is the highest level of interagency collaboration. When agencies collaborate, they function as one entity and are actively engaged in joint problem solving, sharing, and merging of resources. When outside agencies and schools collaborate, they understand that these actions characterize effective services.|
Collaboration is an ongoing, dynamic process. Engaging in collaborative efforts with community agencies is time well spent and has the potential to improve outcomes for students with disabilities as they enter the post-secondary world.
Keep in Mind
Throughout the collaborative process, the focus must remain on the student. Collaborative planning requires team members who know complex service issues and have the:
- Understanding of local and state agencies and community resources
- Skills and willingness to work with others
- Willingness to share resources and knowledge
- Ability to accept responsibility for decision making by the group and carry out agreed upon plans
Transition Update – Sandra's Community Connections
Sandra’s transition process is well underway. Her plans will be reviewed at least once a year during her IEP meeting. As her plans continue to develop, other agencies that might help her meet her goals will be brought in to help with the planning. Mr. Hunter will continue to serve as a liaison to connect those agencies to the school in order to better serve Sandra and her family.